It’s Absurdly Past Time To Lift U.S. Covid-19 Travel Bans

Travelers are banned from entering the U.S. if in the prior 14 days they’ve been in China, Iran, the European Schengen area, U.K. and Ireland, Brazil, South Africa or India. That’s true even,

  • though the U.S. requires testing of everyone entering by air
  • if the traveler has had a full course of an mRNA vaccine
  • and is coming from a place with far less Covid-19 than the U.S.

This makes no sense. Americans can go to Europe and they can return – in some cases even if they’re unvaccinated. But vaccinated Europeans can’t fly to the U.S. And this is somehow for our protection?

Vaccinated Americans are no longer recommended to wear masks inside of restaurants or even stadiums, because the risk of infection is so low and the risk of being a carrier and spreading to others is so low. Yet they have to wear a mask and show proof of a negative Covid-19 test to return to their country by air. (If they fly to Mexico and drive across the border that’s ok, even if they have Covid-19.)

And who is being protected? Largely Americans who have chosen not to be vaccinated. And what are they being protected from?

The travel ban doesn’t protect the U.S. from variants. The U.K. travel ban didn’t stop the B.1.1.7 ‘Alpha’ variant. The India travel ban didn’t stop the Indian ‘Delta’ variant. And indeed, the virus mutates independently in similar ways around the world. It mutates here because people aren’t vaccinated and become hosts for the virus and its mutation.

There’s simply no evidence that a ban on travel from these countries has limited Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. And the travel bans have never included countries with arguably similar or much worse experiences with Covid-19 like Peru, Bulgaria, Colombia, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, or Russia.

Unvaccinated Russians and Argentines are welcomes into the U.S, while vaccinated French who test negative for Covid-19 are not – even as Americans return home from France in droves.

The Europe and China travel ban made no sense last summer. The China travel ban was bungled by the CDC and the European ban came too late to mater.

Spread is increasing in the United States, but that just means that foreigners arriving from more places are less likely to carry the virus than the median unvaccinated American – double and triply so for vaccinated foreigners who test negative for Covid-19. U.S. policy here has become a farce. It was one thing when these political, not science-based, policies were being propagated by the Trump administration but the Biden administration is no better. Indeed in some ways they’re worse.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Take the masks off your kids….now. New study.


    “Experimental Assessment of Carbon Dioxide Content in Inhaled Air With or Without Face Masks in Healthy Children: A Randomized Clinical Trial”

  2. @KimmieA – Every contrarian viewpoint is debunked to keep their narrative going. Yet, when “highly respected” Lancet retracted their flawed post about HCQ was that picked up by the media? No. Until there is an open live debate on national TV between the experts this is a one-sided agenda. Unfortunately, the only thing that will stop this at this point is a horrifying outcome in the fall/winter for the vaccinated, which I hope doesn’t happen. Or a major whistleblower to step forward.

    CDC posted a study May 28 that compared the incidence of COVID-19 in Georgia kindergarten through grade 5 schools. Masks only reduced COVID-19 incidence by about one case in the entire school. When students were masked, it also made virtually no difference. Ventilation led to better outcomes.

    The health department doctor for our district did his own study between two schools last year. One that didn’t mask at all and the other that did. No difference in infection rate.

    Masks don’t work. You can keep them on your children if you have 24/7 if you are spooked. Not mine.

  3. 1. Not every country has had access to rRNA vaccines and used one of three versions of the Oxford vaccine made by AstraZenica in the US or Europe, the Serum Institute or a South Korean company.
    2. Mask and other restrictions on domestic flights must be retained because the US has a major failure on its hands due to the political schism over taking the vaccine.

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